Press Releases

Purses from New York, California Found Tainted with Lead, Lawsuit Filed Against Major Retailers

CA-The Center for Environmental Health
announced today it has filed a complaint under California consumer protection law against
sixteen leading retailers for high levels of lead found in purses, handbags, and
wallets sold in their stores. The lawsuit contends that lead in purses poses a
health threat to consumers, and can be especially risky for pregnant women, as
lead exposure in pregnancy can lead to life-long effects on a child’s brain


“It is past time for these companies to
take immediate action to protect women from this unnecessary lead threat,” said
Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “There’s nothing fashionable about
carrying a health hazard in your purse.”


The Center has also sent pre-lawsuit
legal notices to other retailers that sell lead-tainted purses, including Kmart,
Bloomingdales, Victoria’s Secret, Express, and seven other


Independent laboratory testing
commissioned by CEH has determined that many purses and handbags
contain lead at levels that exceed California safety standards. A New York consumer
protection group also tested ten similar purses purchased from several of the
retailers, finding six with high lead levels. The leaded purses tested by the NY
group contained from 3,300 parts per million (ppm) to over 53,000 ppm of lead;
the latter is nearly 90 times higher than the federal standard for lead in


“Our testing demonstrates that purses
with high lead levels are being sold throughout the country,” said Judy Braimen,
President of RAMP, a Rochester, NY based consumer group. “Most of us
believe that the government would not allow dangerous products on store shelves,
but sadly, this shows how wrong we are.”


Scientists are increasingly convinced
that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for pregnant women. One
recent study found that lead exposure during pregnancy has an adverse effect on
the unborn child’s mental development, and another study found that exposures
during pregnancy had “lasting and possibly permanent effects” on the IQ of the


Lead in purses and handbags can come from vinyl and other faux leather
materials, or from dyes and pigments used to color the products. Vinyl
is called a “poison plastic” as it often can contain lead and poses
health hazards from production through disposal. CEH has previously
successfully eliminated lead threats to children and consumers from
numerous vinyl products, including baby bibs, lunchboxes, and raingear.


CEH is urging consumers to take action:
consumers can send an email to the retailers urging them to eliminate the lead
threat from purses at . The Center also advises buyers to make
sure that children do not play with handbags.


The retailers we found selling bags that
contain high levels of lead include:

  1. Kohl’s
  2. Target
  3. Macy’s
  4. JCPenney
  5. H&M
  6. Wal-Mart
  7. Aldos
  8. Ross
  9. Forever 21
  10. New York and Co.
  11. Ashley Stewart
  12. 5-7-9
  13. Bakers Shoes
  14. Sears
  15. DSW
  16. Anchor Blue
  17. Bloomingdale’s
  18. Express
  19. French Connection
  20. Lane Bryant
  21. Pacsun
  22. Sanrio
  23. Tumi
  24. United Colors of Benetton
  25. Victoria’s Secret


The brands of bags we found that contain high levels of lead include:

  • Fluff
  • Aldo
  • Ashley
  • Urban Brands
    (Ashley Stewart)
  • Bakers
  • Chinese
  • Lulu
  • Forever
  • Relic
  • Haddad
  • H&M
  • St.
    John’s Bay
  • Worthington
  • Nine &
  • Nine
  • Apt.
  • Daisy
  • Liz & Co. (by
    Liz Claiborne)
  • Dana Buchman (by
    Liz Claiborne)
  • Roxy (by
    Quicksilver, Inc.)
  • Rosetti
  • Cul-de-sac
  • Steve
  • Xhiliration (Target
    house brand)
  • Urban
  • No Boundaries
    (Wal-Mart house brand)